Published on September 13th, 2013 | by admin0
Diary Entry: The Long Goodbye
An excerpt from Katie Boland’s diary from the summer she lost her mind.
We left the joint hours later than we should have, piling into a cab. As we turned the corner and made it onto the biggest street in downtown Toronto, my breath was momentarily stolen. The city, hung in shadow, looked so beautiful. So quiet. The lights were painfully bright compared to the darkness inside. Everything felt symmetrical and perfect in a new way. I stuck my head about the window to breath the city deep inside me, hoping it would share it’s beauty. Then out of the corner of my tired eyes, I saw him.
He had his arms around her. She looked like me, only shorter and skinnier. I moved my head back inside the cab and watched them until we disappeared down the block. He walked with her how he walked with me; protective, proud. As they got smaller and smaller in the distance I felt like I was designed to be next to him. But he was taking her home, and together they were going to sleep in a bed that used to be mine.
That night I slept lonely and cried myself to sleep because nobody was watching.
It was early in April and the weather was unseasonably cold. I was always wearing jackets over light dresses, eating ice-cream while shivering, refusing to wear tights, somewhere convincing myself that the change I desperately wanted had already come.
By this time, I had started dating (a polite term for what we were doing) a crazy man-boy that resembled Side-Show Bob and was in a ‘ska’ band. Adored by fourteen year old girls in the suburbs, he spent his time touring small venues in rural Canada in a disheveled jeep. He had tattoos all over his body, including PUNK RAWK on his knuckles which is pretty much the least PUNK RAWK thing of all time. I’d seen him during the summer that Andrew and I had split up, and after running into him obliterated at a concert we rekindled our loving bond.
He had a tattoo that said LIFE WON’T WAIT in cursive writing across his stomach.
“That’s how you make me feel,” I told him once, late at night, drunk in the dirty downtown Toronto basement apartment he lived in. He said nothing back but I traced my finger tips back and forth along the curves of the letters.
I believed that you never missed someone when their replacement was so different that there were no shared qualities, no comparisons to draw. But really, differences between people are more dramatic, and more striking, and in the dark night that was that spring all I wanted was Andrew’s light.
“You don’t still love me?”
“Kate, it’s really complicated. We can’t be together.”
“Why?” I lay my head on his shoulder and I started crying.
“Because it won’t work,” he said.
“So you think it’s okay to just come here and say you love me and then go see her?”
“It’s not like that.”
“What is it like?”
Finally, he spoke.
“It takes a lot more than love to make a relationship work.”
“That is so crazy,” I said. It was so sad that he believed that.
I straddled him in a hug. He hugged me back. I cried, my tears falling on his hair. I wanted so badly to be held how he used to hold me. The familiarity of being loved, something I knew I once had but had forgotten was possible. But he didn’t hold me how he used to. He didn’t hold me at all.
“But we love each other,” I whispered. “I wanted to marry you.”
“I know, Kate. But that’s… too serious. That can’t be why we we’re together, because we want to get married and have kids.”
I wanted him to kiss me.
“I think you should get off.”
I moved. I stood up. I felt like I had to give him an ultimatum.
“So you know that if we are done now, we are done for good, right? When you walk out that door, we are done.” I told him.
“Why does it have to be for good? We could get married.”
“Her or me, Andrew. I need to see it this way.”
“If you need to see it that way. But that’s not how it is.”
“If you need to see it that way.”
I started crying harder.
“Why aren’t you sadder?”
“I am sad, Kate. I just don’t know how to show it.”
“When you leave, this is really it. There is no going back.”
I wouldn’t have believed it then, but I was right. He left that night and the Andrew I loved never came back.
In Raymond Chandler’s novel, The Long Goodbye, his famed hardened detective Phillip Marlowe says when his lover leaves, “There was a lump of lead in the pit of my stomach. The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To say goodbye is to die a little.”
That night, I died a little.